Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010

At the end of each year, there are a million and one "Best Of" lists.  2010 is no different.  Below are a few of the more amusing "Best of 2010" lists I found.

Best of Pop Music 2010
Each year, DJ Earworm makes a mashup of the top 25 pop songs of the year.  Accordingly, this years mashup is supposed to be the best ever.

Best Movies of the Year - according to Tim Charity. These aren't the top grossing films, but awesome films that you should hunt down and watch.

1. "Carlos"
Few films pack as much information about the state of the world as this high velocity thriller about the notorious '70s terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal. I was lucky enough to catch the full 330-minute TV version, not the 160-minute feature released in U.S. theatres. Directed by Olivier Assayas, this is a fascinating dissection of how the Cold War, the Palestinian problem and oil potentates laid the fault lines for today's political tensions. It's Jason Bourne with a Ph.D. in political science.

2. "True Grit"
A classical western except for the prodigiously eloquent and determined teenage girl at its center, "True Grit" finds the Coen brothers keeping a tight rein on their sometimes snide comic inclinations. "True Grit" is folkloric in its hard-nosed evocation of a place and time where the prospect of sudden death is a constant factor, but where a young girl of redoubtable principle and pluck can still stir acts of remarkable self-sacrifice in even the hardest hearts.

3. "Shutter Island"
Leonardo DiCaprio made two intriguing dream projects back to back. "Inception" was an impressive demonstration of Christopher Nolan's command of time and space, but Scorsese's gothic nightmare was an altogether deeper and more troubling excavation of the repressed. Critically lauded and a commercial hit, "Shutter Island" still seems underrated -- the film's real twist is that it's an even better movie on second viewing.

4. "Toy Story 3"
A brilliantly inventive and surprisingly suspenseful escape movie conjured from the fearsome prospect of consignment to the toy box in a day care's toddler room. Pixar's long-lived series' abiding separation anxiety is funneled into a succession of ingenious feints and evasions, climaxing in an apocalyptic vision of the gaping inferno. (In 3-D, of course.)

5. "127 Hours"
There was no more exhilarating movie experience than Danny Boyle's intense nail-biter about trapped climber Aron Ralston. The story's built-in restrictions inspire the "Slumdog" director to his giddiest heights, and James Franco delivers one of the performances of the year as a young sensation-seeker forced to confront his imminent extinction.

6. "Mother"
Korean soap actress Kim Hye-ja makes one of the movies' most unconventional amateur sleuths in the latest idiosyncratic thriller from Bong Joon-ho ("The Host"; "Memories of Murder"): a street herbalist convinced that her mentally challenged son is not the murderer he has been made out to be. Her investigation is unorthodox, intuitive and ultimately agonizing.

7. "Winter's Bone"
Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, this features a breakthrough performance from Jennifer Lawrence as 17-year-old Ree Dolly, traversing the Ozark hollers in search of her father to persuade him to meet his court date and save the family farm from the bail bondsmen. Debra Granik directed this bleak, desolate picture of a community scratching by. Like Mattie in "True Grit," Ree has no power here except the moral authority she insists on.

8. "The Social Network"
This enthralling account of the birth of Facebook is a masterly piece of storytelling from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher. It's a portrait of a petulant prodigy to put beside "Amadeus," and as class conscious as "The King's Speech," but very much of the moment. Only time will tell if it endures as well as some of Fincher's previous efforts.

9. "Let Me In"
Hard to say what the audience was for Matt Reeves' Americanization of the acclaimed Swedish vampire film "Let the Right One In." In any case, they didn't show. But this superb chiller honored the delicacy of the original in its subtle shading of childhood horrors and its wintry evocation of Los Alamos, while delivering two or three terrific set-pieces.

10. "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
Is this a fake documentary about real artists or a real documentary about fake artists -- or a bit of both? Credited to the pseudonymous British street artist Banksy and to his French-American acolyte Thierry Guetta (aka Mr Brainwash), the film is a slippery comedy about authenticity in art, as witty and devious as Orson Welles' "F For Fake." The camcorder footage of Space Invader, Shepard Fairey and Banksy himself creating guerilla art high above slumbering cities is priceless.

Best Book Club Picks - according to Lynn Neary of NPR
Parrot And Olivier In America
By Peter Carey; hardcover, 400 pages; Knopf, list price: $26.95
This novel is a riff on Alexis de Tocqueville's famous book Democracy in America, and, like its source, it is an insightful look at post-revolutionary America. But it is also a delightful romp with of two of contemporary fiction's most memorable characters. There's Olivier, a sickly and overprotected young aristocrat raised in the ever-threatening shadow of the French Revolution, and Parrot, the son of an itinerant British printer, who suffers an early tragedy that spins his life in unexpected directions. When the two become unlikely companions, they bicker and grumble their way through America until finally realizing that this new world really is entirely new and completely different. The aristocratic Olivier thinks he has found love. The plebeian Parrot wonders if this is a place where he can finally rest. For those who like to fall into a big, sprawling novel and get lost, this book is for you.

By Dolen Perkins-Valdez; hardcover, 304 pages; Amistad, list price: $24.99
Of the many inexplicable aspects of the institution of slavery, one of the hardest to fathom is the relationship between slave owners and the slaves they took as mistresses. It is this relationship that Dolen Perkins-Valdez explores in the novel Wench. She sets her story mostly in a resort in the free state of Ohio, revealing a little-known slice of slave life — the phenomenon of Southern slave owners vacationing with their mistresses. The false air of normalcy and the tantalizing proximity to freedom that results has a profound effect on four women whose lives are utterly dependent on the mercy and whims of their owners and lovers. For one of these women, the hint of freedom is also an invitation to escape, upending the carefully constructed lives of both owners and slaves. This is a fascinating and tragic story that is also a compulsive read.

Faithful Place
By Tana French; hardcover, 416 pages; Viking Adult, list price: $25.95
In Faithful Place, Tana French takes readers into a corner of Dublin where families do their best to suffocate dreams and cops are to be avoided at all costs. Detective Frank Mackey escaped from there long ago, but the discovery of a body in an abandoned house brings him back to the old neighborhood. When the abandoned body turns out to be a girl Mackey thought had jilted him on the night he ran away years ago, he is forced to face his past and the family he hoped he had left behind forever. French has a way of creating characters whose own lives are as mysterious as the crimes they are involved in solving, a reason her books can be interesting even to readers who are not normally attracted to detective stories. Faithful Place is as much as study of the complexities of family relations as it is a crime novel, and as everybody knows, families are endlessly fascinating and always surprising.

The Imperfectionists
By Tom Rachman; hardcover, 288 pages; The Dial Press, list price: $25
This kaleidoscopic look at a Rome-based English language newspaper is both hilarious and surprisingly moving. Through a series of interlocking stories, we glean the life of a newspaper from its heyday to its decline. From the young publisher who inherited his role and has no idea what to do with it to the obit writer who discovers his own ambition in the worst of possible ways to the avid reader who is years behind in keeping up with the news, we fall for this cast of characters and the paper that has sustained them over the years. If you still harbor a secret love for the days when news wasn't delivered instantaneously, and also accept the fact that the people who brought it to you were neither villains nor cardboard heroes (but merely flawed humans), then you may find a place in your heart for The Imperfectionists.

Sunset Park
By Paul Auster; hardcover, 320 pages; Henry Holt, list price: $25
At a time when lawns are littered with for sale signs and lives are being devastated by foreclosures, it's noteworthy that a writer like Paul Auster would use the nation's housing crisis as a backdrop for his latest novel. As Sunset Park opens, its main character, Miles Heller, is working for a company that "trashes out" foreclosed homes, getting rid of the things families left behind in their haste to abandon what they once called home. Heller has been living in self-imposed exile from his own family in New York, but soon enough circumstances force him to return home. He takes up an offer to squat rent-free in a dilapidated house with a group of young people and is reunited with his estranged father, who has longed for his return. All this provides Auster with the material for a meditation on the meaning of home and the fragility of life with, or without, a safety net.

Best of Animals in the News
A bizarre three-horned cow has proven itself to be a cash cow for a farmer in Baoding, in China's Hebei province. The 2-year-old cow was born with a small bump on its head that has grown to be nearly 8 inches long and now resembles a rhino's horn.

Looking almost like a bronze statute of a human, this chimp, named Guru, lost all of his fur to a disorder called alopecia, a disorder than can also affect humans.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trivial Thursdays

Trivial Thursdays are back.  The fabulous-ness of answering a few (usually five) random questions each week is making a come-back.  Feel free to grab the 5 questions and link back to me.

Do you live in a house that is deep cleaned or straighened?
I live in neither.  LOL!  My house needs to be deep-cleaned and, unfortunately, it's not even straightened.  It's a bit on the cluttered and messy side.  Ugh!

What is the first nightmare you remember?
I was being chased by a shark as I was swimming... in my BATH TUB!

Even if you are not a sports fan, what’s your favorite sport to watch?
Always volleyball or any type of dancing.

If you could pull off one piece of trendy fashion, what would it be (jeggings, hats, thigh high boots, etc)?
I'd like to be able to pull off thigh-high boots.  (If I could pull it off, it would be a safe assumption that I had significantly skinnier thighs.)

Did you make good grades in school?
Yes, for the most part.  I always excelled in school and it was easy.  However, in high school, I started to appreciate a good FULL day of sleep to slaving over my geometry book or physics equations and then my grades dropped a bit... but I always did well -- when I showed up.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Breaking Things

"Hopefully nothing breaks.  Things always seem to break when husbands travel for more than a couple of days,” a friend told me sweetly.


My stuff wouldn't break. Or, rather, it couldn’t break!  I’m awful with tools. There are so many different kinds and they are all so confusing and loud (if they plug in) and, for pete’s sake, they are DANGEROUS!  If I can manage to slice off the tip of my finger and half a finger nail bed with a simple vegetable peeler [true story, I have pictures to prove it], can you imagine the damage I could do with something like this?!
I guess we will just have to be careful then.  Yep!  We can do that.  The wee ones and I would be very careful and...

“Moooooooomm! Look what happened!” Little Man pointed to his toy, which was, oh no, BROKEN.

But hey!  That’s alright.  He’s barely four years old and, you know, things inevitably break when a four-year-old is hanging around them.

It’s all good.  As long as nothing major severed, shattered or smashed, I’d be hunky-dory.

A few hours later I was on the davenport, trying to concentrate on an episode of TLC’s “Four Weddings”. I am rarely able to catch the show, but I’m totally addicted to it.  I was busy trying to decide what in the world these crazy, botox, bride-zillas were doing?  Wow!  The catty, snarky comments from the uptight Manhattan-ite were some grand zingers.  And the bride with BIG hair from Alabama was serving crocodile to her guests.  Then there was the Wisconsin bride who said that dancing and drinking are the Devil’s work. I thought she was going to have a brain aneurism at the over the top, high-society (wannabe), New York wedding.  I bet -


WTH?!  That was the sound of a piece of molding from the living room end table hitting the floor.

Seriously?” I said out loud.

“Seriously?” Little Princess mimicked.

“I didn’t do it!” Little Man chimed in.

Oh for goodness sake! Suppose my minivan broke down next? I don’t speak car.  What would I do? I mean I have been known to corner car mechanics and come up with intelligent comments such as, “Yes, the black thing under the hood looks funny and it’s making this scary noise.  Kind of like a ticked-off cat growling when my baby grabs his tail...” But darn!  Aren’t most things under the hood black? The only thing I know about transportation is that the engine lives under the hood... and is black. Crappity, crap, crap!

I managed to fix the end table.  Duct tape and/or a hot glue gun can be a gal’s best friend.

Alrighty then!

Everything was kosher again. Please, oh please, do not let anything else break.

Later we settled down the eat dinner.

I settled down into my chair seat and....

Oh, nevermind the gory details. 

Dramatically, I bellowed, “ARGH! I’m cursed!”

“Me too!” sighed Big E, equally dramatic, as she copied me.

“Do I have to eat my peas?” is all Little Man had to offer.

Little Princess just cackled her evil laugh that reminds me of a mad-scientist.

The good news is… nothing else has splintered, burst into flames or disintegrated since then.

The bad news is… I still have two days until That Man is scheduled to arrive home.

So please. Please. PLEASE!  Let that have been it.

(Ironically, right after I finished the entry, one of my kitchen ceiling fans stopped working.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Re-do. I'm Lazy!

With the Christmas holiday, I am a bit behind the times, so I will re-share my Glee-fully Addicted post from November.  Sorry for the duplication!

I will admit to being part of the crazy 30-somethings totally obsessed with the Fox tv show Glee.  It rocks!  Normally I'm not a huge fan of musicals.  I mean I positively ADORE all things dance and drama related, but within those genres, musicals are low on the totem pole.  So, much to my surprise, I am utterly addicted to Glee.  I was slow to catch on and actually missed most of last season, but now I can't wait for Tuesday nights at 7pm central!

Some of my very favoritest music numbers from Glee are below...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sharer or Hogger?

I grew up in a (predominantly) generous family. A lot of my family members cook and bake well, so my family history was frequently woven with the sharing of recipes and stories to accompany those recipes. People in my family are also generous with time and what they are willing to invest in other people. This is the model I learned. This is the model I will pass along. Years ago, I worked with a woman who clearly grew up in a household of “share nothing.” She obviously felt resources were precious and it was the Great Depression. And, NO, she was not struggling with finances. She just did not like to share.

To Share or Not to Share?

Are these behaviors innate? Or are they learned? I am sure you know people who fit into both categories -- categories I like to call “Hoggers” and “Sharers.”

I always think sharing is the best bet. I don’t mean that you should share you under-garments or the last bite of pasta on your plate (unless you want to, of course.) I am referring to the overall general concept of sharing.

I think being stingy is acceptable and normal in certain circumstances. For example, when you are only two years old and haven’t yet been taught differently. I think stingy at the adult level is odd. And just plain ol’ sucky!

Listen, if you don’t want to share things with other people, you might have a great reason. My dear mom used to hide things from me when I was a child because, well, I used to like to explore in her private stuff and play with whatever caught my fancy. There were many things I liked. I went exploring often. But it never lasted long because, frankly, Mom is a Sharer at heart.

Years ago, I worked with a woman who often brought desserts to the office. I love to bake.  I may not be the best, but I love sharing and seeing others sample my goods.  Back in the day, I also loved to see (and sample) said-former-coworker’s creations. Once for a holiday party, we both made some tasty treats well-received by our colleagues. Many people asked for our recipes and once, while sharing mine, she was within earshot.

Her: You just freely give out your recipes?
Me: Yes. (I am sure I had a really weird look on my face as I replied because, after all, the request is for my recipe. Not my liver, or plutonium, or a kilo of heroin.)
Her: That is so generous of you.
Me: I actually got it from a cookbook so….
Her: (whispering conspiratorially) When people ask me for my recipes, I often leave one ingredient out.
Me: Blank stare.
Her: Isn’t that coy? (She winks.)
My mental response: Yes. That is coy. Since apparently coy now means idiotic and juvenile.
Me (out loud): Huh?! (highly intelligent response)
Her: (more insistent this time) When people ask me for my recipes, I often leave one ingredient out. Isn’t that coy? (She winked again!)
Me: Oh, so you are one of THOSE women?
Her: (innocent blinking) What women?
Me:  A recipe hog. You don’t want to share the good stuff.
Her: I work really hard on my recipes and I don’t want people copying them.
Me: Good thing Rachel Ray doesn’t feel that way! (And then I actually laughed out.)
Her: (Slightly pouty face, but thinks I am joking) Those are MY recipes!
Me: I totally hear you, Betty Crocker! (I laughed more. And scurried away because I just learned who my least favorite co-worker at that office was: The Hogger!.)

Now, if you are hogging Halloween candy… well, that is a different story! I know you are only doing it to protect those around you, whom you love dearly, from getting cavities.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trivial Thursdays

Trivial Thursdays are back.  The fabulous-ness of answering a few (usually five) random questions each week is making a come-back.  Feel free to grab the 5 questions and link back to me.

Do you fold your socks?
No way!  I mean, I fold the children's socks, but usually mine just stay in  basket and I curse myself each and every morning that the sock fairy didn't come during the night to match my stupid socks.

Would you ever own a mini-van?
Yep. Unfortunately, I do own a mini-van.  I promised myself I was NEVER going to own one, but with four children and not enough money for an SUV, I am stuck with a soccer-mom driving mini-van mommy.

Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?
Sometimes, but not usually.

If you could have any talent and turn it into an occupation? What would it be and what would you do?
If I could have any talent and turn it into an occupation, it would either be a professional photographer or a scrapbooker for hire.

Would you rather have a house at the beach or a cabin in the woods?
Definitely a cabin in the woods.  I burn way too easy for a beach -- plus I'm not a fan of sand.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Enough for Now

A little too fuzzy, wuzzy, I know. But my very dear friend lost her mother unexpectedly recently and every day since then I've over-hugged my children. I know that all of my attention is considered over-hugging because the wee ones keep trying to squirm away.

I know that life is precious and I recognize that it can change in an instant. Yet, I often forget to look at the big picture and so I get caught up in the minutiae of my life.  I forget the big things. I get weighed down with questions about my purpose and my usefulness. I feel pointless and like I'm not really doing anything particularly interesting with my life. I wonder what I could be doing to live bigger, but I don't have any good ideas and that is somehow even more depressing.  SIGH!

When I hug my children all of these doubts go away. My wee ones snuggle their sweet, little freckled faces into my neck and I feel like the most important person in the world. I am not sure what I should be or will do with my life. Until the lightening bolt of inspiration strikes, my children's hugs tell me that I am where I need to be.

And that is enough for now!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rachel Ray Mystery

Me + Rachael Ray = NOT BFF.

Why? I DON’T KNOW. I think she’s too happy for me.  I’ve always wanted to kind of slap her.  I mean, I know she’s supposed to be fantastic and all… but really?!?!?  Who gets to host a cooking show and her own almost-Martha-Stewart-like-empire and still be that skinny?

I found THIS cookbook on my shelf and got WICKED confused. Like REALLY confused. We all know that I love to cook, but in all honesty, am not the best cook.  I mean, I bake okay, but cooking… IDK. And EVERYONE who knows me knows that Rachael Ray and I are NOT OKAY with each other. And somehow, this still was on my shelf. This was NOT even Betty-freaking-Crocker! THIS WAS RACHAEL RAY.

I was HORRIFIED. This may be the source of all bad karma in my life. How long had it sat on my shelf? And WHERE had it come from? I simply didn’t know.

I STILL don’t know. At least the Williams-Sonoma books came from a recognizable source (my own grandious thoughts and maybe a bit of stupidity). I think I’m going to run some sort of contest to get rid of those cookbooks. Like, MAKE ME AWESOME FOOD and get some ridiculous cookbooks.

That’s a thought to ponder a while longer...

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I love, love, LOOOOOOVE new recipes.  I love any and all recipes but my very favorite recipes are always for baking or cooking sweet stuff.  I was so excited to stumble across "Oreo Balls".  How could you ever go wrong with Oreos, cream cheese and chocolate?!?!?!!?  Vintage Wanna Bee shared this most awesome
recipe and I absolutely CANNOT wait to try it...

Vintage Wanna Bee

Brain fried, NEED CHOCOLATE.
So, it's the week before finals, and I'm a little tired...
I got three hours of sleep last night...
(Gotta love the overload of homework at the end of the semester!!!)
But, I am craving Oreo Balls.
You need to have them, you haven't LIVED until you've had them.
Seriously, so good. So rich, but sooooo good.


8 ounces softened cream cheese or whipped cream cheese
18 ounces package of Oreo cookies, crushed (crush the entire cookie- including filling)
2 cups semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening


Mix cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy.
Add the crushed Oreos and beat on high until well mixed.
Chill for at least 2 hours in the freezer.
Then roll Oreo cookie mix into one inch Oreo Balls.
Next, melt the chocolate chips and shortening with a double boiler or in the microwave.
Dip the Oreo balls completely into the melted chocolate using tongs or a toothpick.
Put on wax paper.
After the Oreo balls harden, keep them in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3 r 4 dozen Oreo Balls, depending on the size

These are seriously delicious. Just take my word for it, you won't regret making them.

Whoo-hoo!!!!! I can feel the dimples being added to my already well-endowed thighs.  YUMMY!  DELISH!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Undeserving Grace

“I hear religious minded people say all the time with good intentions.

‘God will never place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it.’


My experience is that God will place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it alone. He will break your back and your will. He will buckle your legs until you fall flat beneath the crushing weight of your load. All the while He will walk beside you waiting for you to come to the point where you must depend on Him.

‘My power is made perfect in your weakness,’ He says, as we strain under our burden.

Whatever the burden, it might indeed get worse, but know this-God is faithful. And while we change and get old, He does not. When we get weaker, He remains strong. And in our weakness and humility, He offers us true, lasting, transforming, and undeserved grace.”

-Greg Lucas


Recently, it's been easy to feel overwhelmed by life and the many difficult choices that it's been necessary to make. The above line "He will break your back and your will. He will buckle your legs until you fall flat beneath the crushing weight of your load. All the while He will walk beside you waiting for you to come to the point where you must depend on Him."  really hits home.

There have been many times over my 30+ years when I have all but cursed God for my heavy burdens.  Yet, He is a faithful, forgiving, loving God who always takes me back.  My Mighty Redeemer never turns his back on me.  And I cling to this awesome truth: ‘My power is made perfect in your weakness."

Shalom! Namaste!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ross Sutter

My Little Princess attends the same arts focused school as Big E. I love their program. They attend drama, music, dance and other arts specialists, in addition to gym, library, etc. Each year each classroom is able to work with accomplished and local artists on an intense arts residency. This year Little Princess' kindergarten class worked with a fabulous local folk singer named Ross Sutter.  He is so much fun!  His songs are upbeat and the children love them. Princess worships the ground "Mr. Ross Sutter" walks on.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Trivial Thursdays

Trivial Thursdays are back.  The fabulous-ness of answering a few (usually five) random questions each week is making a come-back.  Feel free to grab the 5 questions and link back to me.

How much sleep do you get at night?
SIGH!  I get a lot less sleep than I would like to.  I am the kind of gal who needs a TON of sleep, but rarely get it.  I would say that on average I get about 6-7 hours a night.  However, my body would REALLY prefer to get 8-9 hours a night.

Would you rather wear the same thing for the rest of your life or eat the same thing for the rest of your life?
I'd rather wear the same thing for the rest of my life (as long as it's uber comfortable).  I want variety in my food!  I love me some good ol' home cooking!

What was your favorite TV show as a child?
As a really young child, my favorite cartoons were Jem and the Holograms, Care Bears, Fraggle Rock, and Smurfs.

Do you budget Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?
Oh no.  There is no budgeting.  I just wing it.

Do you remember your biggest fear from when you were little?
My biggest fear was being eaten alive by a shark -- in my bath tub!!!  Or the random nightmare about my family perishing in a house fire...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Generally, I do not share email forwards.  I have a rule of thumb that I simply will not forward email chains that are sent to me, but I guess this one caught me in a sentimental moment -- especially since all of my grandpas, my dad, my uncle, my father in law are all veterans.

As a solider in the Vietnam war, my father was a helicopter door-gunner.  He experienced and saw horrors he will not speak of... E.V.E.R!  He lost some of his best friends in the unpopular war and was in more than one helicopter that was shot out of the sky.  On one particular mission, his copter came under heavy enemy gunfire from the ground.  My dad's kneecap was shot and obliterated while he was a door-gunner in the helicopter.  He had to have a replacement kneecap and suffered residual pain ever after.

Unfortunately, my father also suffered from severe complications of undiagnosed PTSD and depression from the aftermath of his war experiences.  In December 1999, he tried to take his own life by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun.  Blessedly and miraculously, my father survived his violent suicide attempt; however, the attempt was not without lasting consequences -- several weeks in a coma in a top-notch hospitals ICU, several months in rehabilitation and finally a devestating traumatic brain injury that basically ended his independence.  He will never again live on his own or work as a mechanic or last a single day without many mandatory medications.

I am thankful each and every moment of my life that my father survived.  I am also grateful, beyond words, for the freedoms we experience as Americans.  Freedoms that most of us take for granted.  Freedoms we feel entitled to, but that many millions of other people in other countries cannot even fathom experiencing...

And so, I share this email forward about a man buying lunch for some soliders on his business flight.  Snopes has even heard of this story and has been unable to discount it as a lie (or as the absolute truth), but I believe in human kindness and therefore choose to believe it is absolutely, 100% true.

Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.’

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time...

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.' His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God
Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.

As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fancy Dancing

Last week, Big E's fifth grade class performed in the weekly school assembly.  Big E attends an arts focused school and, in addition to gym, library, etc, the students also attend drama, dance, music, choir, orchestra, visual arts classes. Each year each classroom is able to work with accomplished and local artist on an intense arts residency. This year Big E's class worked with a world-renown Native American dancer from a local a Anishinabe (Chippewa / Ojibwe) tribe. E had the grandest time and truly enjoyed the cultural experiences and skills she learned.  here are a few pictures of her classes performance.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Whoa Dang!

Are You Serious?

I love a snarky blog post as much as the next person, but let me tell you -- Midwest Misfit totally rocked my world with THIS posting.  She is fantabulously honest and hard-assed with her comments and feedback to 16 and Pregnant.  Take a gander at her blog and make sure to read the above linked post, as well as her hilarious "About Me" section titled Who's Your Mama?

Hee hee!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wish I Knew BEFORE

Deep down, I think we all could have used some practical guidance on the following items BEFORE we bred:

Parenting ages you at a rate once ONLY reserved for US Presidents.
Did you every notice how fast the President ages over a four year term? Did you ever stop and look at your old DMV photo? Ya know, when your license expires and the new picture needs to be taken? Eight years ago I looked like this! A young Lucille Ball...

Now?! Now, I look more like a really tired Carrot Top. God Help Us ALL!

Knowing this in advance would have enabled me to stockpile face creams, massages... maybe a vial or ten of botox.

Washable red markers are, alas, not fully washable.
Just as new red t-shirts wreak laundry havoc and Hawaiian Punch will ruin any garment, the red markers will stay with you. My advice to you: Completely remove them IMMEDIATELY from all Crayola marker boxes. Lose them, toss them, crush them, shred them... whatever it takes.

Your parents really did live to embarrass you.
How do I know this is true? Because, some days, I DO live to make Big E squirm into a pre-teen sweat. That's okay... treat me like a jerk in front of your friends just because you think it's cool, but I assure you, every boy you date will learn that I called you "Chick-a-biddy" and "Precious." Your 10th grade friends will be tipped off that you still loved to run around the house naked as a jaybird at age seven. So, seriously?! Don't push me, Chick-a-biddy!

Kids smell.
Really, they do. They start out with that powdery baby smell and any stray odors are blamed on the diapers. This propaganda is only doled out so that you will bond with them. And then when you realize that those wee ones smell, they over-compensate with toxic fumes for tweens through Avon. Had the wee ones smelled at 6 months and 2, the way my laundry does now, I would have gagged and done a serious re-think.

And lastly... You will suck as a mom, and THAT IS OKAY.
Whenever I come clean on some massive parenting fail point, I am always amazed and so very grateful for all of your kind responses. I'm assured (okay, sometimes astounded) by the volume of equally bad flashes of judgment confessed by y'all. It does my heart good to know we all suck at this at times, and that life goes on.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Greek to Me

I LOVE the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."  It's awesome!

Toula Portokalos: "Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. 'Ah, the man is the head of the house!'" 
Maria Portokalos: "Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants."